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Chatham Islands get Government help with water

Chatham Islands get Government help with water

The Government has agreed to pay the cost of urgently upgrading the Chatham Islands land-fill, sewerage and water systems amid fears for the health of local people, Local Government Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"Key infrastructure on the Chatham Islands is in a hazardous state, creating significant public health, environmental and ecological risks. Cabinet has decided this situation cannot be allowed to continue," Mr Carter said.

"We have agreed to pay to upgrade the land-fills, water and sewerage systems at Waitangi, the main town on the Islands, as soon as tenders are sought."

Mr Carter said under normal circumstance local utilities such as water and sewerage were the responsibility of district and regional councils.

"But the Chatham Islands Council has only a small number of ratepayers from whom it can raise rates. This has made it impossible for the council to afford an upgrade of its utilities."

A review of the Chatham Islands Council earlier this month found:

The sewerage system, which services Waitangi, has now virtually ceased operating. The filtration system has clogged and effluent is overflowing on to the adjacent road and is leaching on to Waitangi Beach. The entire filtration system is in imminent risk of being washed into the harbour. The potable water around Waitangi is not treated and does not meet quality standards. Tap water often contains harmful contaminants. The scheme is prone to frequent failure, leaving many Waitangi households without any water supply. The three rubbish tips are all significantly sub-standard. Debris blows over neighbouring farms, and there is no control of toxic or hazardous waste.

"Cabinet has made it clear that the Chatham Islands is a unique case. The decision to assist with the urgent situation over there does not set a precedent for any other council," Mr Carter said.

"Further work is underway on options to resolve the problems with funding local government activities on the Chathams over the longer term."

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